Nicknames

“Hi Dot.  It’s been too long.  Stop by again–sometime.”  Mom’s given name was Dorothy.  Her friends called her “Dot” or “Dottie” before me and my siblings came along.  Nicknames, that were logical extensions of Dorothy.  It seemed weird at the time.

My given name was William, or William, middle name Arthur.  Nobody called me William or Willie–there was the normal Billy, when I was younger, and then Bill.  My closest friends called me “Wild Bill,” after I reached adulthood.  My middle name was left untouched.

Public school kids were cruel.  Nicknames intended as put downs, emphasized worst qualities.  “Four eyes,” for glasses wearers; “gimpy,” or “gimp,” named anyone with hitches in their get-a-longs.

In our little town, several residents had unusual nicknames.  There was “Peachy” Leach, “Push” Banks, “Silver” Scroggins, “Punk” Dowland; sometimes Floyd Rands was called “Slats.”  Never figured the last one out–unless it related to the “Abby And Slats” cartoon.

In high school, I was saddled with “Ice Blue,” because of excess perspiration.  I was also nicknamed “shaky” because of excessive nervousness.  Neither nickname stuck with me–thank goodness.

Why couldn’t I have had one of the cool nicknames–like, Scooter, Skip, Buzz, Zip, Biff?  All of which signified action–toughness.  It was just as well, none fit my personality.  None except “Wild Bill.”  I’ll leave everyone to figure that one out.

Conversation With a Friend

It’s been tough to get going today.  Started a post, didn’t like it.  It’s been shelved, till later. What would Floyd have to say?  If I know him as well as I think I do–something like this.  “If you have something to say–say it!  If you don’t have anything to say–then keep your trap shut!”  Maybe this little talk from 2015 will do me some good.

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“There seems to be a general decline in the ‘effimacaceousness’ of this blog,” Floyd observed–stroking his chin.

“How you figure?”  I answered his question with a question.

“He who answers a question with a question is a fool,”  Floyd philosophized.

“Will you get to the point and knock off the pseudo-intellectual shtick.”

“You’re first and foremost an imaginary character that exists only in my mind.  If it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t be here.”

“Did I hurt your feelings?  Don’t get your shorts in a bunch.  Just listen.

Floyd was attired for summer–bib overalls and slouchy railroad engineer’s cap.  At least, this time he had on a t-shirt.

Customary brown chewing tobacco spittle stained the corners of his mouth.  He expounded homespun philosophy with one foot on the front bumper of his light blue Ford pickup.

“All I was trying to say–is you need to lighten things up a bit,” Floyd answered.  “Most people get #$%@^& tired of hearing the same negative, mopey )*%@%^* day after day.  I failed to mention that Floyd’s vocabulary would make longshoremen blush.

“I’m glad to see you turned out smarter than your buddy Larry.  He’s purt near broke with three ex-wives.  Hasn’t got a pot to *&$% in.  He should have had enough *&^#$@^! sense to quit after wife number two.”

I hadn’t thought about Floyd for a long time.  Something about unshaven, sweaty men in bibs I’d prefer to avoid–as a general rule.  He was a memorable character.  If one looked past the disheveled, gruff exterior–he always gave good advice.

 

Weird Laws For $200, Alex…

A living trivia category for over thirty years, was the tiny hamlet of Paradise, located in a corner of Michigan’s upper peninsula.  Townsfolk could take social media publicity no longer.

A popular fishing and vacation destination, the “Please refrain from playing Jimmy Buffet music–thank you for your cooperation,” signs in store windows were hard to explain.  The law was impossible to enforce.

“I wouldn’t care if I never heard that “Cheeseburger in Paradise” song, ever again.  And I think most everybody here would agree with me,” Mayor H. Claven Clifford II said at the town meeting.

“If I get another request from a Hollywood media producer, to be interviewed about our being anti-Jimmy Buffet this or that–I’m gonna’ scream.  I swear, Buffet got more publicity from our denial, than he would have gotten otherwise.”

“My father, who was mayor at that time, is probably turning over in his grave.”

“Permission to speak?” Asked Councilman L. E. Muenster.  “Don’t you think it’s time we overturned this asinine piece of legislation?”

“Permission granted.  However, I would caution the councilman to watch his choice of words.  Did you wish to make a motion?”

“Yes, I move that city ordinance 192-85 prohibiting the playing of Jimmy Buffet songs within city limits be overturned.”  The motion passed, almost without objection.

In tiny Paradise, Michigan, it had been against the law to play Jimmy Buffet songs in businesses or public buildings.  It went back to the mid-eighties, when a merchant applied for a license to open a local “Cheeseburger in Paradise” restaurant.

Needless to say, Jimmy Buffet’s lawyers weren’t pleased; threatened legal action if the name wasn’t changed forthwith.  Mayor H. Claven Clifford, not to be outdone, sent a petition to Buffet’s people.  The village of Paradise wasn’t much of a competitive threat–he pleaded.  Paradise, MI was denied–left to its own fates.

Times changed–the years went by.  Most townspeople became indifferent to Paradise’s “Anti-Buffet” ordinance.  After all, Paradise was best know for “pasties”–tasty, homemade meat pies.  And Paradisians were satisfied with the fame that pasties brought their fair city.

Whitefish Point was nearby, and had a museum dedicated to Great Lakes shipwrecks.  Included in the exhibits, was a tribute to the wrecked, Edmund Fitzgerald.  The lake waters began to clear.

The Jimmy Buffet, “Cheeseburger in Paradise” debacle faded from memory.  Gordon Lightfoot, who popularized the “Ballad of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” although Canadian, remained as close to being a local favorite son, as anyone else would ever get.

 

http://www.jeopardy.com/–

 

Stone and Silk (Marvin & Janie)

My tarnished love story, written three years ago.  Because I believe none of us are perfect, and therefore, neither are our relationships.

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I was a dumb cluck from cornfield country.  She was a stone-cold beauty from the East Coast.  Now, there’s a pair for you.

Why he liked her so much was hard to figure.  She was mean–hard to get along with; demanded Marvin’s full attention, morning, noon, and night.  Marvin brought Janie flowers, pretty things, but, it never seemed to matter.  At work, Marv was always borrowing money; because he never had any.  Maybe he thought that was the way relationships were supposed to be?

God forbid Marvin ever looked at another woman–even, for  a casual glance.  When he did, Janie pummeled his arms and shoulders with flailing fists.  He had to have a high tolerance level.  Was Janie that insecure–jealous of other women?  There’s supposed to be someone for everyone.  What had Marvin done to deserve her?

When Marvin worked late, Janie was a nervous wreck until his car pulled into the driveway.  He always called home before leaving work.  They fought like cats and dogs, but when Janie was sick, Marv was always there by her side.  Nobody knew what went on behind closed doors.  Their private lives were kept private.

The Revelation:  Janie had been a former Vegas “showgirl”–if you could call it that.  “The Swan” was a seedy, obsequious dive bar–with obligatory flashing lights, plenty of cigarette smoke and loud music–hidden in the bowels of Las Vegas.  It was just close enough to the strip, to siphon off drifters from the mainstream and stay in business.  Christened, “The Swan,” because the managing partner’s name was Schwann, not because it had anything to do with Swan Lake–or anything cultural.

The Miracle:  Was, that they ever got together in the first place.  Janie danced at The Swan, because that was all she had.  The shame, less important than necessities of life, she desperately needed.  She lived a distorted, Machiavellian, nightmare of what life should be.

Through thick-bottomed drink glasses, Janie was every guy’s ideal woman–worthy of stuffed, sweaty, dollar bills, donated by countless, faceless, nameless men, ascending/descending from emotional highs and lows–in various stages of self-control.

Marvin nodded off into semi-consciousness that night, until his head hit the table.  Then, he became just another bottom-feeder, milked dry, tossed out and left for dead.  “Nighty night–sleep tight,” The bouncer mocked.

The next thing Marv remembered was waking up in the back alley.  “I know I heard “Jingle Bells’ playing somewhere,”  Marv said.  “Or, more likely, it was my throbbing head.”  That’s when Janie walked out the back door.  Marvin’s clothes were damp, dirty, and disgusting.  He was pitiful in a sad, floppy-eared puppy dog sort of way.

She took pity on me–bought me a cup of coffee at the diner across the street.  She told me right up front, it wasn’t going any further.  I asked the same question, she heard every night in the bar.  How’d a pretty girl like you, end up in a place like this?  She turned the question right around.  How had I ended up thrown out of a Vegas bar in an alley?

I answered, It was because I was a hopeless screw-up.  It was a moment of brutal truth–the first time I’d been honest with myself, or any one else, in my life.  The funniest part–we toasted, first to mutual failures, then to hopeless screw-ups.  I didn’t have a dime to my name, but I sure felt better.

We had a lot in common, as it turned out.  She was running away from abusive home life with an alcoholic father.  I’d been kicked out of the house, by my father, at nineteen to sink or swim.  At that moment, I knew I loved Janie.  If given the chance, some day I’d ask her to marry me.

From what Marvin told me, their courtship was a bit like a Hollywood movie script.  The bar’s owner didn’t want Janie to quit; had her followed–made life miserable.  I suspected there was more to that part of the story and he wished to keep it secret.  Love always found a way, so they met secretly at different locations; like underworld spies, or refugees from a war-torn world.

Marvin sat at a table near the entrance of one pre-determined location.  Janie came in a few moments later; sat at an adjoining table.  “You know–I once sprained my elbow,” Was Marv’s opening line.  It was finest cloak-and-dagger, old-time movie dialogue.  “Daffodils bloom in the springtime,”  Janie answered.  To which Marvin asked, “Did you know bats slept upside down?”  Janie opened her purse, took out a white handkerchief.  They walked out together, laughing at their private jokes–played out to perfection.

Their Escape:  Janie and Marvin’s escape from “Sin City” was, no less intriguing.  Highlighted by a two-day exile in an abandoned basement; hiding from some unsavory characters.  It ended with a four-day bus ride to middle Tennessee.  They didn’t know a soul there.  Marvin hoped to land a job at a nearby auto assembly plant.  Janie was hired to wait tables at a local mom and pop eatery.

Marvin and I started work the same day, working swing shifts as janitors, for a starting wage of 2.35 per hour–extra for nights and weekends.  It was good money for a couple of young guys with no experience.  What I learned about Marv and Janie, came from working together at Chrysler for 38 years.  There were occasional encounters with Janie at the supermarket.  They stayed pretty much close to home.

Both of them are gone now.  I feel their presence every day–especially when I see young couples in love, laughing at private little jokes.  Soul mates, lovers–whatever you choose to call them; neither, could have survived without the other.

My first impressions were very wrong.  Janie went first–passed away in Marvin’s arms.  Marv passed away nine years later.  I was there to bid my friend goodbye.  When death knocked at the door–theirs was the only way to go; surrounded by those that loved them most.

 

 

 

Living Mood Rings

Molly was a planner

There was a plan

For everything

And everybody

Expressed thoughts

In vibrant colors

There was no

Night, no day

Molly never rested

On account of–there

Might be somebody

Somewhere, that

Needed something

Seth, was just there

For the beer

Or so, he said

It was just like

Seth to say

Annoying things

Just for laughs

Molly knew he

Would answer

For cruel remarks

On Judgement day

 

Who Was Pookie Snackenberg?

It’s another rainy day after a mild winter.  The mosquitoes are back.  Outdoor plans have been squelched.

Racking my brain for topics to post.  Trying too hard, complaining about it, never worked in the past.  Tuesdays are traditionally slow news days, anyway.

Which leads to the question of “Who was Pookie Snackenberg?”

Pookie Snackenberg, was an invention of Jack Carney, fifties radio DJ for St. Louis station WIL, in the dizzy, high-flying days of AM rock radio.

Pookie Snackenberg, fictional teen hero, represented crazy stunts by rock and roll DJ’s all over the country in the clamor for listeners and ratings.  Pookie Snackenberg buttons were available at the station and sponsor’s retail locations.

In another publicity stunt, Carney asked listeners to pull tuning knobs off their parents’ home and car radios, so dials couldn’t be moved from WIL.

My late father-in-law must have gotten the memo, because the tuning knob on his pickup truck radio was always missing.

As a public service, when there’s nothing to talk about; or you’re in need of a trivia topic–remember to ask, “Who was Pookie Snackenberg?”  And, you’re welcome, happy to be of service.